March 18, 2016 eBrief

Victoria Charles, The Frakowski Firm, helped her client divorce her husband who is currently in jail for the pending murder of her client's three-year-old son. Judge Julie Palmer granted the divorce as she hears all BBVLP cases and reviews all affidavits of substantial hardship for BBVLP clients. Judge Palmer's dedication to the BBVLP has resulted in hundreds of clients obtaining justice. "I have always seen the need for the BBVLP," Palmer said. "Most of these people are not looking for a hand out, just a hand. I want to help put people back on the right track."

1. This mother of a five-year-old needs help filing a protection from abuse order against her abusive husband who she has called the police on numerous times.

 2. This women has not been able to live in her house since 2015 when a city contractor damaged her property when bulldozing the lot next door. Help her obtain safe housing. 

3. This client has had mold in her Section 8 apartment since 2013 and needs help getting the landlord to fix the problem.

No photo because 
client is afraid of
abusive spouse. 
4. A 31-year-old woman need a divorce from her husband who is in prison on convictions of second degree domestic violence and abuse against the client.

Monday & Thursday mornings
Wednesday mornings

Client, Lacy Triplett and 
Laura Pizzitola,  Bressler Amery & Ross, and Tereza Sampaio
Tarackia Phillips-Barge and Client

Homeless Shelter
Tuesday mornings

Alan GardnerJosh Tuner and Catherine Crow, Bressler Amery & Ross, Chuck Price, and Kristin Sullivan, Massey, Stotser & Nichols.

Ben Cohn
Williams, Elliott & Edwards

Obtained a divorce from a woman who had been separated from her husband for years, but because neither party could afford an attorney could only move on with their lives after Ben helped them.
Sara Adams, Lorant Law Group
Stephanie Blackburn, Legal Services Alabama
Kathleen Bowers, Bressler Amery & Ross
Haley Box, Legal Services Alabama
John Paul Bruno, Lorant Law Group
Kathy Collier, Balch & Bingham
Catherine Crowe, Bressler Amery & Ross
Patricia Doblar
Amy E. Glenos
Maura Goodwyn
Melinda Guillaume
Yu Huang
James Illston
Kendra Johnson
John Milledge
Ryan Myers, Cory Watson
Margaret Philps, Legal Services Alabama
Tarackia Phillips-Barge
Laura Pizzitola, Bressler Amery & Ross
Tereza Sampaio
Lacy Triplett, Bressler Amery & Ross
Katelyn H. Wilson, Bressler Amery & Ross
Pamela Weed

Jessica Chang, Cumberland School of Law
Avuntee Patel, Cumberland School of Law
Barbara Saurer, University of Alabama
Trey Abbott, Bradley Arant
Ben Cohn, Williams Elliott & Edwards
Catherine Crowe, Bressler Amery & Ross
Megan Elder, Kirk Drennan
David Hymer, Bradley Arant
Matthew Tull, Bradley Arant
Meade Whitaker, Bradley Arant


BBVLP helps pro bono inventors obtain patents thanks to Bradley Arant attorney

Dr. Nicholas Landau, a partner in the Intellectual Property group at Bradley Arant, volunteers his time helping low-income inventors as part of the BBVLP Patent Program. Below is his interview with the BBVLP:

Why is a pro bono patent program important?

American history is full of examples of great inventors who started out life very poor (some were even born into slavery, such as George Washington Carver). Obtaining patent protection can be a prohibitive expense for a person with a low income. Although a patent application may be filed by an inventor pro se, patents are a very complicated area of law; and even though the United States Patent Office treats pro se applicants relatively sympathetically, without a thorough understanding of the law and the ability to pay a patent attorney, it can be difficult or impossible to obtain an enforceable patent.

In addition, the America Invents Act of 2011 imposed a "first to file" system on American inventors that magnifies the importance of filing a patent application early in the development process. As a result, an inventor might jeopardize patent rights in the invention by waiting to file the patent application until obtaining business capital (which can be a lengthy process). This law has been particularly hard on low-income individual inventors, who do not have planned legal budgets or permanent in-house legal departments.
Are there other benefits to having a pro bono patent program?

Providing pro bono patent application drafting services to poor inventors not only benefits the client, it benefits the American economy by allowing new inventions to be developed and commercialized that otherwise would be abandoned by the inventor and forgotten. In the current "global economy," any popular consumer product is very likely to be imitated by cheaper offshore manufacturers.That calls into question an inventor's ability to recoup the costs of research and development. A patent can temporarily prevent cheap imports from flooding the newly created market."

Is there anything that you have learned from helping low-income inventors?

I have learned not to pre-judge a person's inventive savvy based on that person's background or current situation. As nearly every patent attorney knows, everyone has one invention in them.  We also know that most of those inventions are either not technically feasible or not commercially viable.  Although some of those who applied for the Pro Bono Patent Program did not have very good inventions, I have been surprised at the high percentage of those who do. The program seems to attract applicants who are serious about developing their invention, and have put some thought into how they will be commercially developed. The applicants come from a variety of backgrounds.  We have at least one serial entrepreneur and one post-doctoral fellow, but most have never launched a business or studied engineering."

Do you think other patent attorneys would benefit from volunteering?

I recommend pro bono service to all attorneys. Our privileged position as attorneys should create a duty to contribute our time to ensure a legal system that provides its protections equitably. I was surprised when I began to practice as a patent attorney when I learned how few patent attorneys contribute their time to pro bono projects. Pro bono is nearly universal among attorneys who practice in other areas.  

My role model as an attorney has always been my mother. Before she retired, she had an intense international practice in commodities futures law. She worked as hard as anyone in the profession, sometimes being asked by her clients to fly to their offices in Europe on less than a day's notice. Nonetheless, she never neglected to provide pro bono services, in some years billing 50% of her time to pro bono work, and in fact she founded entire pro bono programs while maintaining her private practice. Even the busiest attorneys should allocate some amount of time for pro bono work.

If you are a patent attorney and would like to help expand the great work of Dr. Landau, please contact Graham Hewitt. Please click here to read Dr. Landau's biography.
Donations from the community are the number one funding source for the Volunteer Lawyer Program. Click here to donate.
There are two ways attorneys can choose to help with the Volunteer Lawyer Program. Click here for what you can do.